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Cablegate: Nigeria: Falling Behind Millennium Development Goals

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PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #0608/01 0881102
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291102Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9024
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 6459
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0195
RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ 0193
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000608

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR DPETERS
DEPARTMENT PASS TO USTR (AGAMA)
USDOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
USDOC FOR 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAID PGOV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: FALLING BEHIND MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS


ABUJA 00000608 001.2 OF 002


1. Summary. Nigeria is not on track to meet its Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) due to a lack of policy coordination
between the federal, state and local governments. A major
impediment is the lack of staff available to implement and monitor
MDG projects. The Government of Nigeria (GON) has, incorporated the
gains from the Paris Club debt relief into the annual budgets for
2006 and 2007, which has provided resources for key public sector
reforms and focused public debate on the MDGs as instruments of
Nigeria's development strategy. End Summary.
.
MDGS ON TRACK
-------------
.
2. Nigeria likely would meet its Millennium Development Goals on
primary education; ensuring a sustainable environment; developing
global partnership for development; and girl-child education, but is
not on track to meet other MDGs, according to Amina Ibrahim, Senior
Special Assistant to the President on MDGs. The Universal Basic
Education (UBE) scheme that was introduced in September 1999 had led
to improved efficiency of primary education, with higher completion
rates, and increased enrollment in primary school. The full
realization of UBE however, still faced challenges of universal
access, equity, quality, funding, and management.

3. Regarding the goal on promoting gender equality and empowering
women, women had become increasingly favored in wage employment in
the non-agricultural sector. The share of women in wage employment
in the non-agricultural sector was 46% in 1996, increased to 62% in
1997, and rose to 79.4% in 2003, according to the General Household
Surveys of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Though female
political participation was an area needing special attention, the
situation has improved at the federal level in terms of the
appointment of women to political and decision making positions,
according to Ibrahim. The increase in the number of women in
cabinet and presidential advisory positions included the ministries
of Finance, Health, and Education, Chairman of the Federal Inland
Revenue Service, Director General of the Small and Medium
Enterprises Development Agency, CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion
Council, to mention just a few.
.
MDGS Off Track
--------------
.
4. Ibrahim lamented that goals on health and poverty would not be
met because implementation required enormous coordination among the
three tiers of government and a buy-in from sub-national
governments, which is difficult due to Nigeria's federal system.
Ibrahim explained that current efforts must be intensified if
Nigeria is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; reduce child
mortality; improve maternal health; and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and
other diseases. President Obasanjo has complained that criticism of
the GON is unfair because he cannot order the states to fund certain
sectors, unlike during military era of decrees when state governors
were forced to comply. This has become an issue, such as when the
MDG goal of primary education is undercut by the states because they
fail to adequately support universal basic education, yet the GON
receives the blame for missed targets. The federal government can
and has taken some steps however, such as paying teachers' salaries
directly and deducting the amounts from state allocations.

5. The ongoing dialogue between the three tiers of government and
the benchmarking exercise by the National Planning Commission (NPC)
which assessed the performance of states in economic reforms and
execution of poverty reduction projects were steps in the right
direction, according to Ibrahim. States that performed well in the
NPC benchmarking exercise had been selected as pilot states that
would benefit from donor aid and GON funding of some selected
pro-poor projects. Some of the state governors and the chairperson
of the governor's forum had been selected as members of the
Presidential Committee on the Assessment and Monitoring of the MDGs.
The state governors include those of Gombe, Enugu, Kebbi, Kwara,
and Ondo.

How Debt Relief = MDG Spending
------------------------------

6. The Debt-Relief Gains (DRG) accruing from the Paris Club debt
deal make 100 billion naira available yearly, which would have
otherwise been spent on debt service. These funds go into a Virtual
Poverty Fund to execute MDG related expenditure in key ministries,
departments and agencies (MDA). The key MDAs are Health, Education,
Water, Power, Gender, Youth, Environment, Housing, Agriculture, and

ABUJA 00000608 002.2 OF 002


Roads. The MDAs receive funding additional to their main budget
envelopes for specific MDG spending.

7. The DRG funds were incorporated into the federal budgets of 2006
and 2007, and the MDG-related expenditures were executed through the
key MDAs, while monitoring and evaluation was done by the private
sector and civil society to avoid potential conflicts when a
government agency is expected to render progress reports to another
government agency, according to Ibrahim. At its inception it was
difficult to get civil service cooperation in key MDAs because the
MDGs were an unfamiliar concept and time consuming cultural
re-orientation was necessary. Ongoing public service reform is
addressing such problems but challenges remained.
.
Challenges
----------
.
8. Ibrahim highlighted key challenges to Nigeria's faced in
attaining the MDGs - lack of coherent policy, planning and
budgeting; human resource capacity constraints in the MDAs;
constraints in assessing funds to execute projects due to the "due
process" mechanism; improper coordination among the ministries and
their parastatals in project implementation; continued lack of
consultation between MDAs and states resulting in the duplication of
projects; inadequate provision of relevant baseline data; and
inadequate investments by states in the MDGs. More than two decades
of economic decay made it impossible to implement quick fixes.
Achieving the MDGs would be a long-term process as a new generation
took charge.
.
MDGS Help Economic Reforms
--------------------------
.
9. Ibrahim said that while the achieving the MDGs is important,
simply getting them integrated into policy reforms and the budgets
was an achievement in itself. The MDG's were now part of the public
debate on Nigeria's development strategy with a positive impact on
public attitudes.
.
Comment
-------
.
10. Nigeria achieving the MDGs is a tough task that requires
sustained action, high-level political will, and a systematic
approach. While the GON should be credited for making progress on
some MDGs, the new government that takes office in May, will need to
continue the process, win over the hearts and minds of the public,
and remake the civil service. The GON must see the MDGs as the
baseline and not the ceiling for Nigeria's economic development.

CAMPBELL

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